For the other side of the leasing perspective, we talked with Chase Lawrence, who runs College Town Properties. The company manages approximately 2,000 properties in Athens. The majority are leased to students with rents from the low $400s to around $1,000 a month per student. Lawrence, a UGA alumnus, said students should consider several factors when choosing their first off-campus housing, including:
Location. Understand where you want to live in relation to campus. “Many students don’t realize how long it takes to get to campus when they live off campus,” Lawrence said.
Budget. Carefully calculate the true cost of living off campus. “They may not be accustomed to paying for water, trash, cable, Internet and power,” Lawrence said. When comparing properties, utility packages can be drastically different.
Maintenance. How maintenance is handled is a change from the dorm experience. Landlords who rent single-family homes often expect students to perform routine tasks, like changing air filters. The property management company steps in when major work is needed, such as air conditioner outages.
Upkeep. Like most rental companies, College Town typically requires one month’s rent as a security deposit. “Last year, about 90% of the company’s renters got back the majority of their deposits,” Lawrence said. If the walls are scuffed, there will be a small fee to repaint, but abuse, such as holes in the wall and damaged appliances, can result in the loss of the deposit.
Move Out. Leaving stuff behind after you move can cause problems. “The removal of personal items is a huge issue,” Lawrence said, noting that property management has to coordinate with a crew to remove and dispose of the items. The tenant is charged $50 per commercial contractor bag of personal items and $150 for each piece of furniture removed.
Pets. Be prepared to pay a fee and keep an eye on possible damage. Lawrence’s company normally charges a $300 non-refundable pet fee, and approximately 95% of its properties are pet friendly.
This article originally ran in The Red & Black's special publication Student Housing Athens, GA